Thursday, February 27, 2020

I Like #153

I didn't take very many pictures this week, and we're crazy at work, but I thought I'd take a few minutes to pop in with some things to like from this week.

1.  The first wonderful thing is that I got my annual Valentine's quilt block in the mail from my  mom!  They're different every year, and this is the tenth one.  I'm about ready to start piecing them together I think.  Lately Mom has been exploring different ways of doing transfers to fabric,  so I think that's why she did that picture of my sister and me in the middle.  I'm the round-faced one on the right, sometime in the mid-80s.  You can't tell, but I'm wearing a pumpkin Halloween costume and my sister is wearing a Snow White costume (that's a really terrible fuzzy wig she has on).  Love you mom!!!

2. I love my pups!  Unfortunately this weekend they both had to have baths which they did not like at all.  Blue especially really really hates it, but we all survived.  They'd needed them for a while, but the final straw was when Blue peed all over Bentley's head on the walk (way worse than usual).  Usually it's Bentley's fault- he pushes in there before Blue is done.  But this time it was Blue all the way,  he couldn't bother waiting until Bentley moved.  Anyway, they were both really wonderfully clean for a couple of days and then it rained just enough to make mud in the backyard and now they're dirty again.

3.  My mom and I are shopping around a Mother-Daughter art quilt show called Life in the Mountain West.  We're looking for museums/galleries to hang it, which is pretty stressful and requires lots of persistence, but I'm excited about it and I was thrilled that the promotional postcards I arrived for it arrived the other day.  We're going to have them to pass out at the annual SAQA conference in Toronto next week among other things.  The picture is out of focus, but the postcard is nice and crisp and the colors are great.  I always order stuff like this from Vistaprint and I've never been disappointed.

Hope you all have a great week!  click over to Lee Anna's for more things to like!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

I like #152

I'm back with another week of things to like.  My sister and the kids were up this weekend which was wonderful and fantastic in every way.  My life is so much better when they are around!

We went for a run with the kids, and then went out for breakfast with lots of hilarious mad libs.  After that we went to the natural history museum where Anna did fantastic and Alex liked seeing the big dinosaurs. Later in the day we made hug monsters, which was a fun craft project.  When I was in youth group as a kid we used to make hug balls, just big yarn pom poms, and then whenever you hugged one another you'd pull out a string from the pom pom and tie it around the neck string of the hug ball.  We did the same thing this time only made it a little more crafty by turning them into monsters.  The kids had fun and Becky and I went a bit nuts.  Mine has feet and a baby on her shoulder.  Becky's hug ball has pigtails and is evidently cannibalistic as it seems to be eating a smaller hug ball.  In any event we had a fun time hugging each other the rest of the weekend.

I saw this dog while stopped at a stop light the other day.  It looked like one of those things you see on an internet video but I laughed out loud to see it for real.  He looked so human and comfortable there.  

Speaking of dogs, my favorite instagram dog account is @weratedogs  All the dogs get at least 11/10, and they're all the very best dogs ever.  The captions are hilarious, the dogs are adorable, and I highly recommend the account.  They recently came out with a pink version of their "tell your dog I said hi" decal and I had to get one to put on my laptop.  I am definitely the kind who wants to say hi to your dog. 

And I thought it was time for an update on my cacti.  A bunch of the really tiny ones have died, but I have several that are still growing.  There are found medium sized ones and one slightly larger one (about 1" high).  And it's kind of hard to see but towards the bottom of the picture there are five or six really tiny ones growing, and I really hope I can keep them going.

 I hope you had a good week!  Click on over to LeeAnna's for more people looking for things to like!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

I Like #151

Welcome to another week of things to like!

I didn't take very many pictures this week, but here are a few.

1.  Nice sunrise while jogging the other day,  our street doesn't drain right so there is always that weird long puddle, but I thought it reflected the light nicely.

2. I love the pups!  Bentley and Blue are good-  It's been wet and cold and very very muddy here, so the floors are in a constant state of disarray from everything they bring through the dog door, but we fight through it.  It was warm Sunday so we were able to keep the door to the studio open for a little while in the afternoon and Bentley enjoyed sitting in the sun.

Unfortunately, they also did this which is NOT FUN AT ALL.  I thought I had pushed it back far enough on the counter to be out of reach (they're not routine counter surfers) but apparently the loaf of banana bread was too much to resist.

3.  I blogged about my new RPE/choroid quilts this week, they are for Brenda Gael-Smith's show that is starting in Australia and traveling around after that.  This year tons of places are having Vision 20/20 calls for entry, and as a vision researcher I feel like I should enter them, but I don't have too many eye quilts just sitting around any more! 

4.  I enjoyed the book "The Refrigerator Monlogues".  It's about ignored women superheroes and ignored superhero girlfriends.  It's a quick read and has a really interesting tone.  I found it by looking at a list Lee Anna shared of fairy tales for grownups a few weeks ago.  It wasn't on that list but its author was, so I checked it out from the library.  I really enjoy the book recommendations from our bloggy friends!

Have a good week everyone and click over to LeeAnna's for more things to like!

Monday, February 10, 2020

First RPE Quilts: Finished

Last week I blogged about my new printing and quilting projects based on the retinal pigment epithelium and choroid and today I'm back to share the first three small quilts I made from those printed fabrics.

This first one was a piece of painted silk, and finished 20" x 20".  After painting and markering the back RPE layer, I quilted around all the cells.  Then I fused down the orange choriocapillaris layer, quilted it, then painted it some more, then quilted some more.  This one was made to enter the Vision 2020 exhibition being curated by Brenda Gael Smith. 
RPE #3: Age-related Macular Degeneration. 20" x 20" c. Shannon Conley, 2020, Photo by Mike Cox

The second and third ones were made out of a scrap of polyester crushed velvet.  I painted the back since I thought it would give me a crisper print, but then you couldn't really see it on the front.  However, I think the thickness of the fabric mean more paint was absorbed, so the colors turned out very vibrant.  These two are both donations for SAQA, one for the annual 12x12 SAQA auction, and one for the SAQA spotlight auction at the annual SAQA conference in Toronto.  The spotlight auction quilts are really small, and not finished on the edges.  They're 6"x8" and then matted so that the final part that shows is 4.5" x 6".  That's why it looks so unfinished here, all that edge will be cropped out with the mat.

RPE #1, 8" x 6", c. Shannon Conley, 2020

This one is showing for the month of March at the Shirley Stiles Gallery in Westwood, MO  and for the month of May at the InterUrban Art House (IUAH) in Overland Park, KS, so if you happen to be in the area, stop in and see the exhibition.  It'll be a collection of these 12x12 quilts from SAQA members in our region.

RPE #2, 12"x12", c. Shannon Conley, 2020

These three were all in the same colorway, but I painted several others, so there will probably be some more coming with a similar theme.  It was certainly fun to experiment!

Friday, February 7, 2020

New Project: RPE Quilts

Since this is 2020, it seems like every art gallery or quilt show is having a Vision 2020 themed show or exhibition.  Of course as a vision researcher I wanted to enter at least some of these, but the two previous vision associated quilts I did, (here and here) aren't available to show anymore really.

So I decided to make a couple of new ones!   The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) combined with the blood vessels of the choroid comprise the support tissue for the neural retina.  If the RPE and choroid stop working or start to die, then the retina cannot receive nutrients or eliminate waste properly. This is what happens in age-related macular degeneration.  The RPE and choroid start to degenerate, and then the retina starts to die as well, leading to vision loss and blindness. I therefore decided to make a series of quilts using the really cool patterns of the RPE and choroid as my starting point.  The RPE is a layer of epithelial cells that is tightly arranged in a largely hexagonal pattern, with the network of small choroidal blood vessels known as the choriocapillaris directly behind it.

Inspired by the "sun" printing exercise from Betty Busby's class, I cut a whole bunch of vinyl masks in the shape of the retinal pigment epithelium.  I made this design using Adobe illustrator and one of my micrographs of the RPE and cut it out of vinyl on the silhouette at two different scales.

Here you can see a piece I painted with the vinyl over it while it dries.

I painted several different fabrics, below you can see a couple of them after they dried and I removed the vinyl.  

The next step was much coloring with paint markers and jelly pens to give some depth and texture,  below you can sort of see where I've started outlining my shapes with marker, and further painting in the one below.

After finishing with the coloring, I started on the layer of blood vessels.  This is the pattern I designed for the choriocapillaris, but instead of cutting it out of vinyl, I cut it out of painted non-woven fabric, ready to fuse to my quilt surface.

 Here you can see me quilting (on my mom's longarm no less) the choriocapillaris layer (orange) down onto the painted RPE layer (blue-purple).

Check back later this week to see the first three small quilts I made using this fabric!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

I Like #150

Welcome back to another week of things to be grateful for.

1. I like in-person time with my friends!  My dear friend Linda and I got together for breakfast this morning and it was so wonderful to catch up in person.  She and I have been friends a long time and it's always wonderful to be with her in person.  Funny story,  last week I shared my mom's repaired Cocos, her chimp loveys from childhood (second picture below), and after seeing that post, Linda sent me a picture of her beloved childhood lovey- named Monkey!  They're virtually identical!  Monkey has more preserved fur than the Cocos and seems to have had fewer dog interactions, but it was so cool to me that they'd both hung onto such similar favorite toys!
Linda's Monkey

Mom's Cocos

2.  I like working on new things!  I got down to the laser cutter this week and was able to do some more work cutting some new fiber sculptures.  Every time I go down there I learn something new, this time it was that dashed lines in illustrator won't cut as dashed lines, so if you want perforations you have to do this big giant work around.  Now I'm working on the sculpting part and that's challenging too, but so fun to work through the challenges.  We had an unexpected snow day yesterday so I got to stay home and sew.  It was really fantastic, although I did spend a really unpardonable amount of time searching for my missing shiva paintsticks.

3.  I love music.  This last Saturday I had symphony tickets and it was a special program in honor/memory of the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing.  The first half was a gorgeous, a Bach fugue and a Chopin piano concerto.  The second half was even more moving, two pieces composed in memory of the bombing, one a spare, ethereal piece titled ruins, and one was a new commission for this occasion.  Everyone was asked to wear white, and the overall effect was really cool.  From both a musical and emotional standpoint it was my favorite yet.

4.  I love my birdies!  I have a little robin couple at the moment, I watched them yesterday eating out of the birdseed, I love the orange beak on the (presumably) female and of course the bright red male.  So fun to see them out there in the snow.

5. We didn't get a tone of snow, but a fair amount for us (we usually get ice in the winter), about 4 inches at my house.  It was enough for someone in the neighborhood to make a snowman!  Made me smile while walking the dogs yesterday afternoon.  The dogs don't love the snow but they don't hate it, mostly they are lazy and stayed inside snuggling all day.  But they were excited to go on the walk and pee on the nice white snow all over the neighborhood.

6.  I also blogged this week about a finished quilt featuring petals,  it's always exciting for me to do the final final final part of each project (blogging about it).  Read about it here and here.

Click on over to LeeAnna's to see more people who are finding things to like this week!

Monday, February 3, 2020


Last week I blogged about the first part of another new dimensional quilt and today I'm back to share finished pictures.  The piece has three panels, and after painting the petals and the background, I hand stitched each one down.  I put PVC pipe under each row of petals and then painted them with fabric stiffener so they'd stay round and perched out.  The PVC pipe also helps prevent them from being squashed in shipping.  (Shipping this kind of work is its own special nightmare).

On one panel the petals curve up, on the other side they curve down, and in the middle half are up and half are down.

I wasn't sure what to name this one either,  the little cutouts remind me of advent calendar windows and little miniature shrines or nichos, but in the end I decided to just go with "Petals" since that was my original inspiration.
Petals, c. 2020 Shannon Conley, 32x51x3, Photo Mike Cox